Six years after lifting the FA Cup as Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta held the trophy for the first time as manager as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace sealed victory over 10-man Chelsea at Wembley.
Aubameyang cancelled out Christian Pulisic’s early opener from the spot and he struck again after the break to secure a record 14th triumph in the oldest football cup competition in the world and his first title with the Gunners.
Mateo Kovačić saw red shortly after as Arsenal saw out the win relatively comfortably.
Chelsea made an impressive start with aggressive pressing ensuring Arsenal struggled to keep possession. Intricate play in tight areas allowed them to pour forward in the opening minutes with Mason Mount testing the hands of Emi Martínez early on.
The Blues continued to control the early tempo and Oliver Giroud flicked a low cross from Mount into the path of Pulisic and the young American’s close control saw him nip past the defender and loft the ball over the Arsenal goalkeeper.
The Gunners couldn’t cope with the early Chelsea pressure and Pulisic went close again, this time Martínez made the save.
Arsenal’s main outlet seemed to be long balls to their forwards but they soon turned that into a dangerous weapon down their left-hand side with the pace of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Aubameyang causing plenty of problems.
After a few dangerous attacks, Arsenal thought that had got their equaliser when Nicolas Pépé rifled a shot into the top corner but Aubameyang was correctly flagged offside in the build-up.
That didn’t deter the Gunners and when Kieran Tierney sent Aubameyang racing clear all César Azpilicueta could do to stop him was to haul him down earning the Gunners a penalty. The striker brushed himself down and sent Willy Caballero the wrong way.
That seemed to turn the tide and Arsenal went on the rampage. Aubameyang, Pépé and Alexandre Lacazette all had sight of goal while a Dani Ceballos free kick flew just over the crossbar.
Azpilicueta suffered a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Andreas Christensen, who produced an important block after Héctor Bellerín had managed to poke a ball through to Pépé.
Half time came at the wrong time for the Gunners and after the break Chelsea took back control with Mount and Pulisic instrumental again but the latter had his afternoon cut short when he also suffered a hamstring complaint – a relief for the Reds.
Frank Lampard’s men continued to pass the ball around confidently but they failed to really test Martínez with all of their possession. Arsenal were happy to sit back and hit the Blues and the counter and with 20 minutes left, they did so with devastating efficiency.
Bellerín, who likes to turn up against Chelsea, strolled through the middle of the pitch and was stopped short of the box. Pépé, who picked up the loose ball, found Aubameyang and the Gabon international tricked his way past Kurt Zouma before lifting the ball over Caballero.
Arsenal’s fortunes increased further when Kovačić was shown a second yellow to leave Chelsea a goal down and a man down.
The red card knocked the stuffing out of the Blues and even a triple substitution failed to spark them into life as Arsenal went in search for a third.
Eddie Nketiah, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sead Kolašinac all came on to help the Gunners see out the win and end a dismal season on a high note.